Voters in Northeast B.C. elected a mix of old and new to their municipal councils Saturday night, and threw in a few surprises too.
In Fort St. John, third time proved to be the charm for Becky Grimsrud, who topped the polls with 1,718 votes and will take a seat at the table after running unsuccessfully for office in 2014 and 2017.
She'll be joined by newcomer Tony Zabinsky, elected with 1,372 votes.
"I feel very honoured and excited; a little bit nervous. I have a steep learning curve ahead of me,” said Grimsrud, who topped the polls with 1,718 votes.
“I think people were ready for a new perspective and change in the dynamic of the team environment.”
Added Zabinsky: "Change is good but it has to be proactive and it has to be active."
Grimsrud and Zabinsky unseated long-time incumbents Larry Evans and Bruce Christensen, both of whom served on council for more than a decade.
"Although you see me 'pulling up stakes' on a election campaign, I will not be pulling up stakes on this city and the wonderful people within," Christensen said in a post to supporters on Facebook.
Said Evans: "While I’m not on council I will continue to love and support Fort St. John with all my heart and soul."
Mayor Lori Ackerman was elected to another term by acclamation. Rounding out council are incumbents Lilia Hansen, Gord Klassen, Byron Stewart, and Trevor Bolin.
There were 2,861 ballots casts for an estimated 20% voter turnout — up from just 15% and the lowest in the province in 2014.
View Fort St. John voting results by clicking here.
In Taylor, Rob Fraser was re-elected mayor by a wide margin, beating challenger Laura Prosko with 308 votes to her 89.
“I’m humbled the electorate has given me another chance, and another four years working with council and moving Taylor along,” Fraser said.
Incumbents Betty Ponto, Brent Taillefer, and Dave Lueneberg were re-elected. Joining them is newcomer Michelle Turnbull, who garnered 290 votes, and fills the empty seat left by George Barber, who did not seek re-election this year.
Turnbull said she was excited to be elected.
"I look forward to moving the community forward," Turnbull said. "I'm honoured the citizens have entrusted me to represent them."
Prosko, meanwhile, said she will turn her focus on restarting her public relations business.
"I'm really proud of the campaign we ran," Prosko said.
"I think races are great; you talk about the issues of the community and that's important."
There were 403 ballots casts for an estimated 40% voter turnout, reportedly one of the highest in district history, and which had election officials counting ballots by hand in batches of 25 late into the evening.
View Taylor voting results by clicking here.
School District 60
In School District 60, Fort St. John and Charlie Lake voters re-elected board chair Erin Evans and incumbent Bill Snow. Former CM Finch Elementary principal Helen Gilbert topped the polls with 1,593 votes and will join the board of education. She'll replace incumbent Darrell Pasichnyk, who was defeated.
In the rural areas, turnout was poor: Madeleine Lehmann was elected with just 51 votes to represent Cecil Lake, Goodlow, and Clayhurst, beating out Melanie Edwards, who got 10 votes.
David Scott-Moncrieff was elected with just 14 votes to represent Prespatou, Buick, Rose Prairie, Montney and surrounding areas, including Doig River and Blueberry River First Nations. David Christie earned just four votes.
Nicole Gillis and Ida Campbell were elected by acclamation to represent Hudson's Hope and Taylor, respectively.
View School District 60 voting results by clicking here.
In Hudson's Hope, Travous Quibell, Mattias Gibbs, Kelly Miller, Patricia Markin, Valerie Paice, and Leigh Summer. Dave Heiberg was elected mayor by acclamation.
There were 261 ballots casts for an estimated 35% voter turnout
View Hudson's Hope voting results by clicking here.
In the Northern Rockies, incumbent mayor Bill Streeper was ousted. Voters elected Gary Foster as mayor with 922 votes — far outpacing Streeper's 540 votes.
Elected to council were Lorraine Gerwing, Todd Penney, Kyle Andrews, Laurie Dolan, Danny Soles, and John Roper. Both Penney and Roper are new to council.
There were 1,487 ballots casts for an estimated 44% voter turnout.
View Northern Rockies voting results by clicking here.
In Dawson Creek, Dale Bumstead outpaced challenger Trenten Laarz with roughly 85 percent of the vote, or 1,780 to 291 votes.
"I am so appreciative of the opportunity to represent Dawson Creek as the Mayor. My home town is so important to our family and I sincerely all of the support," Bumstead told the Dawson Creek Mirror.
Blair Lekstrom, former Dawson Creek mayor and provincial cabinet minister, topped the polls with 1,829 votes. He will be joined by re-elected councillors Charlie Parslow, Shaely Wilbur, and Paul Gevatkoff, as well as new faces Jerimy Earl and Amy Kaempf.
Incumbent Cheryl Shuman finished second-last in the polls with 1,006 votes.
There were 2,094 ballots casts for an estimated 25% voter turnout.
View Dawson Creek voting results by clicking here.
In Tumbler Ridge, voters chose a new mayor instead of an incumbent.
Keith Bertrand was elected mayor with 251 votes while incumbent Don McPherson finished with 238, a tight race that wasn't lost on Bertrand.
"That was close!" Bertrand said in a post to supporters on Facebook. "I am excited to lead this team."
There were 766 ballots casts for an estimated 54% voter turnout.
View Tumbler Ridge voting results by clicking here.
In Chetwynd, Allen Courtoreille outpaced councillor Alec Brownlee for the mayor’s seat, while Merlin Nichols appears to have been sent a message by voters.
Courtoreille was elected with 255 votes, edging out incumbent councillor Alec Brownlee, an incumbent councillor who sought the mayor's chair when Nichols stepped down.
Nichols finished last in the polls with 195 votes in his bid for councillor.
Mel Deck, Jocelyn Disher, Clay Bassendowski, Laura Weisgerber, Rochelle Galbraith, and Janet Wark were elected to council. Both Disher and Wark are new to their roles.
There were 492 ballots casts for an estimated 28% voter turnout.
View Chetwynd voting results by clicking here.
In Pouce Coupe, every vote counted as just one incumbent councillor earned another term.
Barb Smith was re-elected to council while “new” faces — former councillors themselves — Ken Drover, Donna White, and Marlene Hebert were also elected. Lorraine Michetti was re-elected mayor by acclamation.
Incumbent councillors Andre Lavoie lost a chance for a second term by just one vote to Hebert.
There were 137 ballots casts for an estimated 23% voter turnout.
View Pouce Couple voting results by clicking here.
School District 59
In School District 59, four incumbents ran for re-election, and just two were re-elected.
The board of education will include incumbents Crystal Hillton and Tamara Ziemer. Joining them are Becky Borton, Roxanne Gulick, Jennifer Lalonde, Chad Anderson, and Travis Jones.
View School District 59 voting results by clicking here.
Peace River Regional District
There was no election for the Peace River Regional District.
Karen Goodings, Brad Sperling, Leonard Hiebert, and Dan Rose were elected by acclamation as there were no challengers.
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